De Dreux was born in Paris in 1810, the son of the architect Pierre-Anne de Dreux. His interest in art was fostered from an early age by his uncle, the artist Dedreux-Dorcy, a close friend of the painter Géricault, whose choice of subjects, notably horses, were to have a lasting influence on the young artist. He too, favoured strong thoroughbred breeds as the subjects of his paintings. During the 1820s de Dreux studied under Léon Cogniet, and his equestrian portrait of The White Stallion, exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1831, revealed the strong influence of Stubbs on his work, recalling in particular Stubbs's Horse attacked by a Lion (1770).
From the mid-1840s de Dreux travelled frequently to England where he particularly admired the work of Landseer. In 1848 he crossed the channel with his most influential patron, Louis-Philippe, the Duc d'Orléans. It is likely that de Dreux was brought to the attention of Queen Victoria through Louis-Philippe at this time, painting a portrait of the pair riding in Windsor Park. In turn, the Queen commissioned several works from the artist.
Killed in a duel over payment for a portrait of the Emperor Napoleon III, de Dreux's dramatic death ended an artistic career in its prime. Fêted for his equestrian portraits characterised by their luminous colour and bold modelling, he had already been awarded medals for works exhibited at the Paris Salons of 1834, 1844 and 1848, and the Légion d'honneur in 1857. De Dreux passionately enjoyed participating in, as well as painting, equestrian activities.